First, there's a popular belief amongst their readership (for whatever reason) that this is not the case and that Google actively works against sites like these. Furthermore, if it doesn't currently work against these sites, it's taken for granted that if (for some reason) Zero Hedge became more popular than WSJ Google would work against it.
Secondly, if it were the case that Google would surface Zero Hedge over WSJ purely because of popularity is that ok? Is that what should happen? If Google does want to curate rather than using a "blind" algorithm does that change the way it's regulated and what it's responsible for?
I think this is something we haven't quite figured out as a free society. We recognize that an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people (please don't over index on who the quote is attributed to).
Yes there are a multitude of media outlets on the internet which the citizenry can use to educate themselves. Are there moral hazards when the majority of the citizenry arrive at one or two doorsteps in-spite of the multitude of alternatives? What is the risk if what's served from that doorstep is detrimental to the republic?
Breitbart in particular has run a long series of articles featuring leaked discussions from within Google where there are calls internally to remove or penalize Breitbart from organic listings, and deactivate their AdWords.
They also discussed censorship on Facebook and Twitter amoung others.
They run these under the umbrella “Masters of the Universe”:
Breitbart articles discussing Google censorship aren’t radical alt-right preaching. You can strongly believe that Google is making informed and conscientious decisions about censorship and rankings on their platform, and then read a different perspective on Breitbart to understand the other viewpoint.
For example, in response to a question as to why when doing an image search on Google for “idiot” that Trump is the result (Currently he is 3 of the top 10 results. I mean, that is pretty funny actually) Sundar Pichai swore to Congress that Google does not manually intervene on any search result. Is that really credible?
Maybe it’s a little hard to quantify what is a “real” news site anymore. Some people assume this is self-evident, but I am skeptical of everything I read.
I sometimes find it entertaining to see what slant opinionated news sites will put on a story and compare it against the MSM.
Is Sundar and Microsoft working together now? But wait, are they also paying off Duck Duck Go??
These conspiratorial arguments that search engines are politically biased stems from technical illiteracy and/or a lack of critical thinking. The arguments are used as a distraction by certain people who want Americans to disregard any new information that may paint them in a negative light - and it is working on a subset of Americans.
It’s beyond question that Google manually intervenes in Search results in some cases. That could be entirely innocuous or concerningly dubious. The question is exactly how, how often, and should they be accountable for it?
If it's "beyond question" then it should be easy for you to provide evidence, right?
As with most conspiratorial arguments, you're trying to protect your opinion by using a false premise (and prevent people from questioning it).
That may be narrowly true of a particular article but it isn't true of the newspaper as a whole.
Bannon himself called Breitbart "the platform for the alt- right".
Fox News is a sharply right-wing news site with a very strong editorial bias. I don't like Fox News, but I can't argue that it doesn't belong in the same bracket as CNN. Breitbart does not.
You’ll say; This says more about Trump than it does about Breitbart.
I'm not saying that sites like Breitbart should be buried (boycotts, though, seem fair game). I actually like Talking Points Memo every once in awhile. But I don't use blogs as my primary news source and Google shouldn't promote blogs as if they are.
Ever since Bernie has made Amazon a target, considering Bezos owns both. For example he was able to berate them into increase their minimum wage. Some sources:
Just like most big tech, the leadership is in bed with the corporate democrats, who are in turn in bed with the military industrial complex, big pharma, and Wall Street.
While it isn't quite as bad I'd compare Breitbart more to Der strummer the Nazi Propaganda rag then to partisan newspapers or blogs.
Racist and bigoted propaganda is what you'll see over and over in it's pages. Stuff like claims islamists burnt down Germany oldest church.
I'd say it's Google's societal duty to censor them
As it turns out, we have figured a lot of this out. It turns out that a good way of deciding what is worth people's attention is to treat a link as a vote. We shouldn't be surprised or alarmed when that surfaces a few main choices, as most of everything is crap.
However as happens in almost every sphere of life, there's a good chance that the good stuff rises to the top (that would be that meritocracy that right wingers say they're fond of). Outranking the BBC for news is hard - it should be.
What its not for you to decide - even if you do suddenly start to decide to write in the style of John Stuart Mill - is that you like some ideas better than others and that you want to start forcing things on people that they neither want nor asked for in the name of 'balance'
And that’s even without the problem that the people running the papers/channels are themselves both powerful and capable of having agendas that don’t need to be aligned with those of their readers.
Unfortunately, “what is true (news|science|morality|politics|economics|history)?” is very much not a solved problem.
I mean no disrespect by this but I'm inclined to think Google knows more about the issue of link and click fraud than you do.
There is a reason that publications in Nature aren’t decided by Reddit votes, and it’s not because nobody can figure out how to integrate the two.
The question is: Is a simple popular majority a good way to decide what news all people should see?
It’s a great way to see what the majority echo chamber wants to hear, but that’s not really a good way to have a well-informed population.
Obviously discard any SEO trickery. But if Zero Hedge is being cited more frequently, being chosen from search results more frequently, etc. then people have found it more helpful, and presumably other people would find the same.
The whole premise of democracy (both the form of literal governance and the general philosophy) is that most of the people are correct most of the time. There exist other algorithms to combine human opinion, but they are wrong more often.
Yes, most political pundits were wrong in predicting Clinton wound win in 2016. But I don't think it makes sense for Google to try and "manually" curate that.
The point is that its not a search engines job to make that determination. People will decide for themselves and whatever the algorithm is, it should seek to remove the personal biases of the implementers and be blind. It should seek to serve the asker not change the asker.
I feel like there could be a term, similar to "uncanny valley" where instead of detecting the in-human traits of something attempting to appear human we see bias in something attempting to be unbiased.
They fairly pointed out the evidence of mainstream news sources promulgating conspiracy theories.
It is useful to make a distinction between news organizations and non-news organizations but it is not useful to apply any sort of value judgement of either based on that fact alone.
If Google detects more engagement towards "Yes" and flatearther conspiracy websites, should their search engine prioritize results that say the Earth is flat?
> If Zero Hedge is being cited more frequently, being chosen from search results more frequently, etc. then people have found it more helpful, and presumably other people would find the same.
> The whole premise of democracy (both the form of literal governance and the general philosophy) is that most of the people are correct most of the time.
1. Google's clickthrough metrics are subject to severe sampling bias.
2. The premise of democracy is seeking compromise across diverse opinions. American democracy has explicit protections against tyranny of the masses.
If NYT is regarded as an authority by a diverse audience across broad search domains and cited by other similarly broadly authoritative sites, while ZH is cited and viewed by a high-engagement but narrow and isolated audience, then NYT should be ranked above ZH. As it is.
Realize however that this is entirely hypothetical, as there is enormously more round earth information with extremely popular sites like wikipedia.org, nav.gov, etc.
My faith in democracy is strong that I believe this will always be the case, so long as the earth remains round.